One year ago, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Throughout the ensuing 12 months, our members have consistently stepped forward with relentless perseverance and dedication to provide exceptional patient care on the front lines, often facing immense challenges posed by evolving conditions and uncertain outcomes. ASHP staff, working remotely from home and without missing a beat, supported our members and all healthcare providers by developing evidence-based resources and tools to identify solutions and share knowledge to improve patient care.
Today, we stand confident knowing that we have three vaccine options authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, offering a real sense of hope that the U.S. population could reach herd immunity if efforts to vaccinate the population continue and the demand for the vaccines remains high.
On Friday, ASHP issued a strong statement urging the widespread use and equitable allocation of all three vaccines, based on a review of the scientific evidence available. ASHP also published two new resources to help individuals counter myths about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and provide information on optimal settings for using each of the authorized vaccines.
These new resources are just the latest offerings from ASHP, which has been a leader since the outset of this global health crisis, providing needed information, networking, and resources to support our members and all healthcare professionals address the impact of the pandemic and plan for short- and long-term recovery efforts.
ASHP’s efforts demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting our members and their patients and also signal just how far we have come in our fight against this virus. In the early days of the pandemic, the need for pharmacist engagement on the front lines of care quickly became clear as healthcare professionals struggled to manage shortages of drugs and medical supplies. There was a need for clarity about potential treatments for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies, corticosteroids, and other medications. One of the first resources we created in March 2020 was ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Related Treatments to help practitioners better understand proposed treatments for COVID-19. This free resource, which continues to be updated at least twice monthly, has been downloaded more than 56,800 times since its initial publication.
The evidence table was just one of ASHP’s many resources that were made open access and free to any healthcare professional who needed it during the spring and summer months of 2020. Others included ASHP’s Critical Care Board Certification Resources, access to our AHFS drug database, and more. Through these actions, ASHP made an enormous amount of educational materials and resources available free of charge to support our collective national response to the pandemic.
Real-time knowledge-sharing was and still is a top priority today. We knew that it was critical for pharmacists in early surge cities to share what they learned to help prepare their colleagues across the country for the inevitable patient surges in their communities and states. To share information as quickly as possible, we developed a free ongoing webinar series dedicated to COVID-19, which continues to provide valuable perspective and intelligence on how pharmacists are responding to the pandemic.
We have held 53 webinars so far, with more than 24,000 total attendees. We have also used our popular @ASHPOfficial podcast to share critical information about COVID-19. Since last March, ASHP has produced 81 episodes dedicated to the pandemic with more than 81,400 downloads. In addition to being featured in webinars, ASHP news articles, and ASHP podcasts, our members and ASHP staff have served as expert sources in the media with coverage in more than 3,900 COVID-19 stories generating in excess of 7 billion media impressions.
Communication among pharmacy professionals and other healthcare providers continues to be a crucial element in fighting this pandemic. Our COVID-19 Connect Community, open to ASHP members and free to all healthcare providers, now has more than 77,500 users with more than 2,300 unique discussion threads. This remains a very active resource where users can ask questions, receive answers, share experiences, post guidance, receive updates, and learn best practices to support patients and each other.
These examples are only a handful of ways ASHP continues to support our members during this ongoing health crisis. The full scope of ASHP’s COVID-19 response is highlighted in an infographic.
Today, countless ASHP members are leading and participating in a historic national vaccination effort that centers on vaccines that did not exist a year ago. As trusted members of the healthcare community, pharmacists are working with patients to overcome vaccine hesitancy and misinformation issues. We believe pharmacists, who are among the most trusted professionals in the U.S., have and will continue to play an instrumental role in supporting our communities through these challenging times. To this end, ASHP recently introduced a Change.org petition calling on the White House to ensure pharmacy professionals are represented in the administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. We believe representation on this task force by a qualified pharmacist will be critical to addressing the persistent health inequities in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The accessibility and expertise of pharmacists make them an asset and essential source of information for the public, particularly in medically underserved areas.
If you haven’t already, please sign the petition to add your voice to the cause. If you’ve already signed, please consider sharing it with friends and family and across social media using #PharmacyFrontline.
Reflecting on this tumultuous year, we will never forget the lives lost and the toll this pandemic has taken on our families and colleagues. We will also never forget the bravery, kindness, and unyielding dedication of pharmacy professionals serving on the front lines. I invite you to view this video where some of our members reflect on their most poignant moments from the last year.
As the vaccine rollout continues and pharmacists continue to play vital roles in the effort, ASHP, as always, remains dedicated to supporting our members. One year in, these remain stressful and unpredictable times, and we are all susceptible to burnout. It is critically important that healthcare professionals on the front lines take a moment to check in with themselves, colleagues, and loved ones. ASHP is proud to offer many resources on our website to help individuals recognize burnout symptoms and practice self-care techniques.
We are so very proud of the resilience and fortitude of the pharmacy community. While 2021 promises progress and hopefully a return to some level of normalcy, we know that there remains much important work ahead. I can’t thank you enough for your ongoing support of ASHP and all that you do for your patients and our profession.